International Students, Fellows and Scholars
- Definition of nonresident and resident alien
- Tax exemption and withholding forms
- Social Security Numbers and ITINs
- Office of International Services
Definition of Nonresident vs. Resident Alien
A new arrival into the U.S. on a J-1 or F-1 visa is generally a non-resident alien for income tax purposes. (See General Information Regarding Taxation of Non-resident Aliens)
To be classified as a resident alien, the individual must meet one of two tests. (If the person does not meet one of the tests, then the person is classified as a nonresident alien.)
Green Card Test: you are classified as a resident alien for tax purposes if you possess a green card.
Substantial Presence Test: you are classified as a resident alien for tax purposes if you were physically present in the US for 183 days during a three-year period as determined below and you have been in the US for 31 days of the current calendar year. However, do not count days when if your in "exempt individual" status (see below).
For the substantial presence test:
- Count all of the days in the US in the current calendar year
- Count one-third (1/3) of the days in the US in the previous calendar year,
- Count one-sixth (1/6) of the days in the US in the second preceding year.
- Add the three together. If the total is equal to or greater than 183 days, then you are a resident alien for tax purposes.
When calculating your days in the US, you cannot include days during which you are classified as an "exempt individual." (Note this term has absolutely nothing to do with being exempt from paying tax.) An "exempt individual" is a person holding a J-1 or F-1 visa, who is in the US to teach, conduct research, or study.
A J-l visa holder whose primary purpose is teacher
or trainee is an "exempt individual" for two calendar years.
A J-l visa holder whose primary purpose is student is an "exempt individual" for five calendar years.
An F-1 visa holder is an "exempt individual" for five calendar years.
If an individual is physically present in the US for any part of a calendar year, that year counts as a full calendar year. For example, a J-1 trainee who arrived in the US on December 29, 1995 counts calendar year 1995 as a full calendar year for the "exempt individual" requirement. 1996 is the second year of the "exempt individual" requirement. January 1, 1997 would be the first day for counting days toward the substantial presence test. Once classified as a resident alien for tax purposes, the individual remains a resident alien for the remainder of that visit to the US. See IRS Publication 519 for more details (available on the web or call 1-800-TAX FORM)
If you are a resident alien for tax purposes see U.S. Citizens and Residents
General Information Regarding the Taxation of Nonresident Aliens
Nonresident aliens are usually taxed on earnings received while living in the United States. Generally, nonresident aliens (F-1 and J-1) are exempt from FICA (Social Security tax).
If your Visa type is F-1 or J-1, you may be exempt from federal taxes only if the country where you lived before arriving in the US has negotiated an income tax treaty with the United States government. The country in which you were born is not a deciding factor. If your country of residence has negotiated an income tax treaty, and it covers the type of payment you are receiving while visiting the United states, you should complete Form 8233 for earned wages or Form W-8BEN for scholarship/fellowship payments. These forms must be completed each calendar year so that federal tax is not withheld from your check. State taxes must be withheld on wage payments paid by the University. Forms are available through the Tax Office.
At year end, the University issues to nonresident aliens either a Form 1042-S or Form W-2, or both which summarizes your income. Nonresident aliens are required to complete federal form 1040NR to report and pay taxes, if appropriate, on any income.
An excellent guide to Nonresident Alien taxation is available from the IRS from the web or call 1-800-TAX FORM and ask for IRS Publication 519.
Social Security Numbers or individual tax identification numbers (commonly known as an ITIN) are required by the IRS for all individuals receiving any kind of payment including scholarships for tuition, or declared as an eligible dependent on a tax return.
Social Security numbers are required for all individuals receiving a working wage while in the U.S. A Social Security Number is issued through a Social Security office. A passport and a letter from the University's International Student Services office or representative stating that the individual is eligible for on-campus employment are required in order for a nonresident alien to obtain a Social Security Number. Contact your school's International Student Services office for assistance, see below. A Social Security Number is used on all tax returns filed with the IRS. If you receive a Social Security Number after receiving an ITIN, always use the Social Security Number.
An ITIN is issued to an individual who is not eligible for a Social Security Number because he or she is receiving fellowship / scholarship but is not receiving a working wage, or is not eligible for employment in the US. Contact the your school's International Student Services office for assistance, see below. After the IRS issues an ITIN, use this number on all tax returns filed with the IRS.